I recently got a call from a good friend of mine from Eunice.
He suggested we meet in Opelousas – the halfway point between our
little Arnaudville brewery and his homestead’s smokehouse.
He just emptied his smokehouse of several chaudins (stuffed pig
stomachs) and was looking to trade one, along with some freshly
smoked homemade sausages. We have a family crawfish pond, and
I figured he wanted a couple of sacks of live ones in barter.
In South Louisiana, sacks of crawfish are legal tender – heck,
they're more important to our economy than the gold standard.
Everything’s value can be measured in sacks of crawfish,
so imagine my surprise when he turned down the two sacks,
suggesting a couple of six packs of LA-31 for the trade instead
– and this with crawfish prices hovering around two dollars a
pound just prior to Good Friday.
I drove up to Opelousas and made the trade, visiting my old buddy
for a while. Driving home, thinking of devouring that stuffed
pig’s stomach, I amused myself, “LA-31’s value on the currencies
market was going up!”
That night my mother smothered the chaudin with a bunch of
chopped onions – man what a nice brown gravy it made.
Nearby was a rice cooker with what looked like too much rice
and a pot of white beans and also a giant platter of cucumbers.
We all ate like it was Thanksgiving - that very rich and smoky
chaudin was the best I ever remember eating. Those produced
in our part of Acadiana are usually fresh, however this one
(like most made in the area of Acadiana from Eunice to
Ville Platte), was smoked.
Don’t tell my good friend Justin that I will gladly give him three
six packs for another chaudin. Crawfish prices however, are headed
south thanks to Lent’s end.
Our little brewery had a ribbon cutting ceremony last week, and we
treated the assembled guests and dignitaries to a surprise keg of our
second beer – Boucanèe. Like the chaudins from the Cajuns neighbors
just north us, this beer is smoked. My brothers
and I figured a few of our guests would be sampling one or two from
the keg, leaving plenty for us for the weekend.
Unfortunately for our weekend plans, that keg of Boucanèe did not
make it thru the ribbon cutting.
Everyone there drank several pints of our cherry-wood smoked wheat
beer. Russell’s, our local grocery store prepared for us a large
platter of delicious finger sandwiches and rushing, I put together
some pinchos, which are small, two or three ingredient appetizers
that are served on tiny wooden spears in the bars of the Basque
region of Spain. Our colorful platter had salami, olives,
mozzarella balls, roasted red pepper strips, pickled
okra, old fashioned ham, shrimp, Fontina cheese, dried
mission figs, and marinated artichoke hearts pared in several
interesting combinations. The smoky Boucanèe beer complemented
everything it was paired with.
Our Priest, Father Brown started the day out by blessing our little
brewery, and we enjoyed the visit from so many of our friends,
family and early supporters – and we all clearly enjoyed the good
food and beer. We were reminded about the things that
are really important in Acadiana.
And we learned that a stuffed pig’s stomach and a wheat beer both
taste better when they have been smoked.